Wander About North


September 6, 2009

On this page you can follow my tryout’s and  research progress. Please feel welcome to comment on my work process directly here, or to come by at the project space to participate, to discuss concepts or to get to know the KijkRuimte. The latest postings you find at the bottom of the page!



As a reaction to the foreign and unsociable city, and to the daily alienation of the city’s inhabitants from their surrounding, Guy Debord and Frederic Jameson developed along with others the idea of Cognitive Mapping, expressed in the practice of psycho-geographical maps, in order to map perception and as a means of creating understanding of the city in which the inhabitants live.

instant-exhibition-035Through this they aim to provide a way for people to get rid of the alienation created by big cities. For Jameson and Debord, everything depends on whether one is able to construct or reconstruct emotions and linkages to a place and keep these created orientations in mind. Psychogeography aims to research through experimental extravagation. The premise is that the geographical environment, shaped or not by human hand, has a direct influence on the sensations.

Amsterdam-Noord is currently undergoing a process of gentrification. This development changes naturally the social texture, which results in a differing emotional connection to the neighbourhood.


In my current work I will combine my own photographs with the visitors walking experience. The idea is to include the audience and their interaction with the installation; therefore I will show possible ways of participating in the experiment, in order to collect data in form of subjective experiences and reactions, which then can be compared to each other and my presumptions.

The structure of a narrative is being created through a walk. The result will be two maps: One in which I map the theories and concepts I work with, and one where the research process with the participants is being sketched out. Through the experiments the street map shall come into live, filled with experiences, photographs and pictures. An emotional adaptation of a walk in Amsterdam-Noord.





Appropriating the KijkRuimte?


Sitting in the project space, I feel as if I am a stranger to it. It is here already for a long time, someone else had lived and worked here, and someone else will work here after me. That is what it meant to be for, that is what is great about it. It is fluctuating. Fluctuation is positive for exchange, it requires movement, but it can also prevent us from engaging with a space. In order to work here, a person will have to get closer to the space, to the room itself, in order to open it up for a creative research process with and through it.





It is a process of ‘appropriation’ that we need to proceed when we come into a new environment, a new space. And depending on whether or not we achieve to link a part of ourselve to it, and to participate with its structures and forms, it will turn into a ‘place’. Usually gallery spaces, museums or other art spaces (also known as ‘white cubes’) are unacknowledged spaces, that still influences its visitors, but try to hide that fact. With the consequence that one cannot – according to Michel De Certeau -‘appropriate’ it, which would be necessary for reflexive experiences. For Brian O’Doherty, the gallery space alienates the artist from society, in the same way that for Frederic Jameson, the city alienates the masses from the spaces they inhabit. It is this alienation that creates the necessity of reacquiring the city through i.e. cognitive mapping.


I have never heard that someone called a art related room a ‘place’. Art space, project space. Space. Art place. Sounds ordinary. The theories of the white cube enforces this notion, where art is what is being taken out of the context. I will turn this space into a place. An art and research place. That is one side street for the next time I work here: to look at (my) emotional relation to the spatial aspects of this room I am working with.



[Looking on the web for the term ‘art place’, I find along with some U.S. galleries, the art place – Mountain View (USA) “We seek to encourage fine arts programs (…) This is done by fostering creativity in each individual rather than the emphasis on a finished product.“

Excerpt from their programme: „Decorative Cake Plate for Mommy & Me (age 4+)

This class is more advanced for child and parent. We will cover proper way to load brush, brush strokes and banning. The background will be applied by sponging. A non-toxic underglaze will be used. Don’t forget to wear old clothes. (…)

Learn to Paint Lifelike Animals in Pastels

We will begin with some simple forms and still lifes, learning how to create 3D effects using lights and shadows and progress to painting a realistic animal or your own pet using a photo.“]



For the main project, I will start preparing a conceptual map of the area. I will set up a walking route through the neighbourhood, which I will then twice project onto the walls of the KijkRuimte. Theoretical concepts like the one about appropriating space, will be linked to certain points on the route, where they are reflected in the living environment.


I would like to take the concepts that are deriving from experiences in someone’s living environment, then cristallizing in theories, into my own environment and find touchable spots outside of my house. This in order to understand them better myself, and in order to bring them closer to other people and hopefully have debates about them, as they have a very concrete form.




[Practical questions that I have to find an answer to: Can I use a beamer to project the street map to the wall and then draw it from there directly onto it? How much is it to let it print in a big dimension? How big does it have to be for my purposes? Can I use a string and nails to make a simple abstract map?]




I move my desk. From the facing towards the wall to in between the windows. Now I get the afternoon sun on my desk, I feel warmer, and as a result I have more wall space to put up quotes that will be included in the first conceptual map. I also put up a list with the questions I need to answer practically, and the answers I find are the first frames for the art work.




I decide simply on the material, but through that I make a choice what will be included and excluded. I am remembering a quote from a text by Elisabeth Grosz, that I read a few days ago:“The emergence of the ‘frame’ is the condition of all arts (…). The frame is what establishes territory out of the chaos of the earth. The frame is thus the first construction, the corners, of the plane of composition. With no frame or boundary, there can be no territory, and without territory there may be objects or things but not qualities that can become expressive, that can intensify and transform living bodies.” [Chaos, Territory, Art. p. 11]




I will be framing self-reflexively. I am intrigued by the coincidence of the spatial descriptions in Grosz and my thoughts about the space I work in: the territory of art. And my next step will be to frame the territory of this neighborhood, to make it productively finding it’s place inside the walls of the KijkRuimte.

[sketch for a possible second map with photographs and psychogeographic maps]

When I arrived today: I met my fellow researcher for this week, who is working enthusiastic in the room next door. And, I found on my desk: one of the neighbours left her email-address, because she would like to participate in the project.




Some pictures from working on producing the maps:
































































25th October 2009

Both maps finished. I got a lot of support from a grey fur ball. Next thing will be to produce the walking booklet to guide people.





















10th November 2009

The project is ready to go, in a literal sense. From the 12th of November until 5th of December you are welcome to drop by and do the walk through the neighbourhood. We are open Thu-Sat from 13.00 to 18.00 or you can email to kijkruimte@gmail.com if you want to come by at another day.
















19th November 2009

The first week of the project is over and the wall is already filled with some pictures. Many people walked in and I talked to people about the project and it’s implications. There is a lot of interest in it, not everyone is convinced yet to participate.

Here two quotes from participants:

“It is all about giving you (mental) space and possibility to wander and get lost (mental and physically) in a suburbian area of the city, where most people don’t dwell or walk or reflect or actually look with real eyes onto the neighbourhood. I find the neighbourhood in architecture-design terms really boring, really planned – every street corner looks the same. I like to see kids playing in the street parks. Loved walking through the market place – feels like the most comfortable “




“Walking along the lines of the map & trying to connect the linear route to the actual streets. I walked between dusk and nightfall going deeper & deeper into my experience of walking, disorientation, discovery, getting lost, being attracted to familiar & strange objects. This project made me reflect on the sheer physical experience of walking in a neighbourhood which from an external point of view, contains uniform houses, signposts, strangers & urban wastelands – yet as you continue on the walk, the camera acts as connecting point between yourself & the environment. Through that you experience the surroundings on a more personal subjective level. The external landscape is filled with symbols, patterns, tension charged eye contact… each place has its own unique energy and story.”










Comments (6)


  1. Bärbel says:

    wow, Johanna, das hört und sieht sich alles sehr spannend an, schade, dass ich nicht mitmachen kann in hamburg :-)) B.B.

  2. LLS says:

    I love you Johanna………….. would be wonderful if more people get into this experience…… LLS

  3. marie-anne says:

    When the project is a slowly growing plant, what is the gardener´s role? Being neither sun, water, earth, animals nor photosynthese. A person unfamiliar with gardening praxis might think that the gardener -also being an organizer- does not create. The plants are growing, and sun, water, earth, animals are working, and what does the gardener?

    The gardener says: What I do? I care.
    Doubty: But, haha, plants grow without care! Hm!
    The gardener (who likes bullet points) answers:
    Yes, but you see
    a) not all
    b) not everywhere
    c) it is about how they grow
    d) wild dandelion does not take away the indoor orchid´s right to exist.
    and e) who says it is only about the plants that should grow?
    Doubty: But how can you be a gardener when you don´t have a BA in gardening?
    Well dear doubty, the gardener says, because many ways lead to gardening. All plants I had and lost and still have taught me what I need to know. You see the garden, don´t you? The way someone learns inside or outside an institution shapes the gardening process of course, but it does not give anyone the right to say the other´s garden does not exist. One characteristic of every slow growing gardening process is that it is a reciprocal growth, of the plants, of the gardener and of the people spending time in the garden or enjoying parts of it elsewhere. So look around at what is actually growing, and be open enough to not only apply your rules to the garden, but let the garden apply it´s standards to you.

  4. marie-anne says:

    Creativity grows in the fearless spot where ideas bubble. Every creation says: I am not afraid! I am here! One advantage of being a grown up is to be able to take care of the plan-t-s closest to your heart and to shape your own garden without fear. Because art is so much about playing, and learning, and knowing, and feeling, and enjoying, and excited buzzing nerves and ideas getting a body and giving invisibilites a shape and cr-eating, there should not be any time left to worry about apostrophes, judging, weighing, rating with a scale not useful to oneself!

    It is great that you translated who you met, what you know and believe in into the wanderful situations. And it is great that you collected and shared ready-to-use and raw knowledge in experiential shape. Thanks for great and funny hours in this great and funny room that creates inspiring talks with inspiring people. Don Stacy writes to his friend: „Some things give me energy, some don´t. Not: is it true or not, but: does it work or not.“ Your art does, your work does, you do. Juhu!

    (sorry to sound that kitschy, cannot help it. And: fart is act, art is fact, fart is fact, art is act, so beware, if you get high on all the Lorbeeren, I wait for a stiff breeze from the south and then tell you the whole story how art met f….or example)

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